Goddess, by Arilin Thorferra – book review by Fred Patten.
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Goddess, by Arilin Thorferra
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, January 2015, trade paperback $9.95 (141 pages).
“This is a mature content book. Please ensure that you are of legal age to purchase this material in your state or region.”
When furry fandom began to develop in the 1980s, one of the first “subgenres” to be seen in traded cartoon art was the furry macros – giant anthro animals striding Godzilla-style through cities of tiny-by-comparison furries. Yet when furry literature appeared, this subgenre quietly vanished. Or went underground.
Here is what may be the first professionally-publicized furry macrophile novella: Goddess, by Arilin Thorferra, “the founder of ‘The Giants’ Club’ and an acclaimed macrophile storyteller.” (blurb)
Russell Rittenhouse (cougar) is the young librarian at Bennett University, one of the leading West Coast private universities. He wants to become a literature professor (with tenure), and has just begun the slow climb of the academic social-political ladder there. He gets a courtesy invitation to an exclusive reception for the visiting King of the small Pacific island of Uli Hahape, near Hawaii. Cornelius Bennett (rabbit), a sixtyish railroad and hotel multimillionaire and benefactor of the university, has arranged the reception to unveil his model of the ritzy superhotel that he hopes to build there, if the king will permit it. King Aremana (otter) is polite but clearly not impressed.
Russell drops out of the social soiree to a sofa to reread one of his favorite novels, The Great Gatsby. He is joined by the king’s daughter, who is also a Fitzgerald fan. They spend the rest of the evening discussing literature. The next day Bennett corners him in the library. Bennett suspects that King Aremana is about to reject the hotel, and he noticed Russell’s and Princess Kailani’s friendly conversation at the party. If Russell will continue to see the Princess, and subtly promote the hotel project, Bennett will make sure that he gets that professorship.
Goddess is an unusual anthropomorphic novella; midway between furry and funny-animal. The furry illusion is not helped by Thorferra’s use of “real” names: author F. Scott Fitzgerald; hotel chain founder Conrad Hilton; Henry Flagler, the magnate who created Miami, Florida in the late 1890s as a posh winter resort town for the monied classes. Or by scenes such as this:
“He looked up to see the desk clerk standing in front of him, motioning toward the approaching Princess Kailani. A one piece blue dress decorated with subtle but intricate patterns in white wrapped about her, the fabric starting just above her chest to leave her shoulders and arms bare, hemline barely reaching the midpoint of her calves. Yesterday’s dress had been loose and billowy; this one flowed around her form like the tide. The necklace of polished wooden beads she’d worn yesterday again encircled her neck.” (p. 29)
Nothing anthro there; the reader has to remember that she’s an otter and Russell is a cougar. But this is a world of size-shifters; rare people who can suddenly grow into giants fifty feet or taller whenever they want. Most size-shifters use their giantism for socially useful purposes (there were giant soldiers on both sides during the last war), but considering the limited number of those purposes during peacetime (one of the best-known is being an erotic model), and how nervous the giants make “normal” people, most size-shifters do not grow into giants in public. In fact, many have not “come out of the closet”. The fantasy of a world of size-shifters somehow makes the furry nature of the people more believable, aided by Thorferra’s skillful descriptions:
“She [Kailani] hurried to the corner, moving about as fast as Russell could without breaking into a jog. Otters shouldn’t be able to do that on short and stubby legs. She didn’t have short and stubby legs, did she? They were long, quite shapely, and clearly faster than librarian legs were.” (p. 33)
Russell is a secret admirer of the sexy female giants from afar. He doesn’t have much interest in women otherwise, so he doesn’t have a wife or girlfriend. He’s free to take on Bennett’s mission. As he spends more time with Kailani, he comes to appreciate both her mind and her body. But it’s all intellectual, not emotional. At first.
The reader can guess that Kailani will turn out to be a size-shifter, but revealing the details would be a spoiler. And that would be a crime, because Goddess is a great read. All the characters are admirably intelligent. It’s got clever writing: romance, legal suspense, action, drama, and an exciting conclusion that is both what the reader expects and an unguessable surprise.
What can be said is that the advertising for Goddess is both accurate and almost totally misleading. Sabretoothed Ermine’s cover does not show a scene from the story. Instead it illustrates the cover of the erotic size-shifter magazine to which Russell is addicted:
“Goddess, the title simply read, wide type across the cover’s top. A busty husky lass barely wearing enough lingerie to cover herself sat against the side of a building, looking down with a smile mixing equal parts seduction and threat. The pose had become stock for the magazine – Russell guessed at least a third of the covers featured variants – but given none of the models stood shorter than fifty feet tall, it was an easy way to emphasize what distinguished a ‘goddess’ from other pin-up girls. Judging by the way her ears met the fourth story windows when sitting, the husky would reach close to eighty feet standing.” (p. 23)
And that’s all that you’ll see of the husky. The “mature content” in the warning is limited to a single brief scene on pages 56 – 58, easily skipped over if the reader prefers. So the warning is technically accurate, but Goddess is not really an erotic novel at all. Unless the mere presence of macros turns you on, like it does Russell. Except for that one scene, Goddess is a treat for all readers. Don’t miss it.